I read a lot of books for kids and I hardly blog about any of them. I only really want to blog about books that I have loved. Or books that have left me with thoughts that I care to write about. The Penderwicks is worth reading and writing about. This book feels like a classic. But it's not, not yet anyway. (not that awards matter much, but it won the National Book Award in 2005.)
In The Penderwicks, Birdsall borrows story elements from Little Women. There are four sisters, all very different, but fiercely loyal to each other. There is only one parent in the picture, although in this story we have a father instead of a mother. When the youngest was only 2 weeks old, Mrs. Penderwick dies from cancer (Internet, do I need to point this out again? What have we noticed about moms in books???) And although it isn't exact, Birdsall is too good of a writer to straight out copy, there are similarities between the March girls and the Penderwick girls. The oldest, Rosalind Penderwick, is maternal like Meg, Skye Penderwick is like Jo in more ways that I can count, Jane Penderwick is artistic and sweet like Beth, and Batty Penderwick is the quintessential baby of the family, just like little Amy was for the March sisters. They even have a cute little sister society called MOPS (Meeting of Penderwick Sisters), where they swear to not tell dad what they are up to, unless they think someone is going to do something really awful.
The book is just darling. And best of all, it's a series! I am now reading The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. I can't report on it, because I just began, but something tells me I'm not done writing about the Penderwick Girls.